MACHIAS – A Pembroke man who barricaded himself inside his house last year after an argument with his wife and son-in-law was sentenced in Washington County Superior Court on Monday.
William Billy Rice, 59, who was charged with criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon and reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon, entered into a plea agreement.
He was sentenced to nine months in jail with all but 10 days suspended and one year of probation on the first charge, and nine months suspended on the second charge.
In April 1999, Maine State Police were called to the Rice home on Front Street in Pembroke. When they arrived, they learned that an argument had erupted between Rice, who was intoxicated, and his wife, Eileen, 65.
The same morning, Rice’s son-in-law, Roger Hendricks of Calais, and another man had gone to the Rice home to work on some equipment Rice owned. Rice is part owner of Down East Drilling and Blasting.
While at the house, Eileen Rice offered to make the men some coffee. It was then that Rice began calling his wife names. When Hendricks asked Rice to stop, William Rice got a .38-caliber Smith and Wesson handgun and told Hendricks he would shoot him.
Rice put the gun down, then picked it up again, and Hendricks grabbed it and tried to pull it away from him.
As the two men struggled, Eileen Rice called police. Once Hendricks got control of the gun, he pushed Eileen Rice and the other man out of the house.
Police arrived soon after, but Rice did not surrender until police lobbed several rounds of tear gas into the home.
On Monday, Rice, represented by his attorney, David Mitchell of Calais, entered guilty pleas.
As a part of his sentence, Rice was ordered to have no contact with his wife. Mitchell told the court that although they had not yet filed for divorce, he believed Eileen Rice was now living in Massachusetts. He said that his client lives at the couple’s home in Pembroke.
Deputy District Attorney Carletta Bassano told Justice Ellen Gorman that it was her understanding that Eileen Rice had no plans to return to Maine.
Mitchell asked the judge to delay sentencing until later this month so that Rice, who had some blasting jobs to finish, could complete those tasks. The judge agreed to delay sentencing until Dec. 29.